Ryan Schmidtberger, executive chef of Cuban restaurant/bar BlackTail in New York, sees the trend firsthand in a city with the largest Cuban population after Miami.
“The (restaurant) concept takes its inspiration in the cocktails, food and décor from American bars that flourished in Havana during this time period,” he said.
BlackTail’s menu focuses on modern, sophisticated flavor profiles.
“Our chicken ‘lollipops’ are by far our most popular menu item,” Mr. Schmidtberger said. “They are essentially boneless ‘buffalo wings’ but with a different twist. BlackTail blends ancho and chipotle peppers with caramel and citrus juice to a finished glaze that provides layers of heat that pair with cocktails.”
BlackTail’s sugarcane shrimp combines a tropical wave of sweet, tart and spicy.
“We skewer the shrimp with sugarcane so it slightly caramelizes when grilled, adding to the sweetness of the shrimp,” Mr. Schmidtberger said. “It’s paired with tart pineapple in the winter and sweet watermelon and serrano peppers in the summertime.”
BlackTail serves more than 40 cocktails with names such as Rattlesnake and Toreador that reflect a sweeter flavor profile due to the Cuban theme and ingredients, Mr. Schmidtberger said.
“But sweet is complemented by spicy and bold, intense flavors,” he noted.